This page has moved to a new address.

< $BlogItemTitle$>

The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 29: The Pirates! Band of Misfits


Aug 29: The Pirates! Band of Misfits

"Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London."
Directed by: Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt, Rated: PG, 88 minutes
Aardman Animations has always been a leader in animated movies, creating imaginative films with hilarious characters. Each one of their films is a work of art and watching it leaves you baffled at the time and effort put into making such a thing. With The Pirates! Band of Misfits, all of those glorious visuals are there with equally impressive sets and decorations but there's really not a lot else. The story's way too messy, throwing in as much as possible, just as quick, and while there are a handful of laughs, it's really not as entertaining as any of the Wallace & Gromit movies (or shorts), or even Chicken Run, both properties of Aardman. It's really disappointing too, because this film packs one hell of a voice cast and sets up a world with so many possibilities. 

I'm afraid to revisit this "classic", thinking my naive younger self just loved it because of the talking chickens. 

The Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) has always wanted to win the Pirate of the Year Award. Each he, he tries his hardest to outdo his rival pirates but always comes up short. His pirate career has become a sort of joke in his "community" and he knows that if he can't win it this year, it's the end of pirating for him. So The Pirate Captain sets out with his loyal crew in hopes of amassing the most booty possible and thus winning the highly coveted award. After several failed attempts at looting passerby ships, The Pirate Captain comes across Charles Darwin's (David Tenant) ship, who recognizes that the Pirate's "parrot" is actually the thought to be extinct Dodo bird and tells the Captain that riches could be had with presenting the bird at a science convention in London. Of course, London is hope to Queen Victoria, pirates' most feared nemesis, and you imagine that sneaking into the England capital to present a bird is a rather difficult task. Thus, you have the majority of the plot for The Pirates!. There's much more that happens, but it all jumps from scene to scene very quickly without giving the audience enough time to relish in the beauty on the screen. There's so much going on in each scene, with attention paid to the smallest of details, that it really is a shame more time isn't spent in each location. 

Just one of about a hundred different scenes... in a 88 minute movie. 

With pitch-perfect stop-motion animation from Aardman, The Pirates! is saved from being another run-of-the-mill kids movie. Each scene is a joy to watch and makes you respect the film-making process even more. At times, you forget you're watching something animated as the backgrounds and scenery look so realistic. However, it's very disappointing when the story can't keep up with such visuals. It's an even bigger shame because this film had to have taken years to make and at no point in the process did the animators and/or screenwriters realize it needed something more. The voice cast, however, is superb, and each of the actors involved had to have an absolute blast filming their respective parts. Along with Grand and Tenant, Martin Freeman, Salma Hayek, Brendan Gleeson, Anton Yelchin, Jeremy Piven, and even Al Roker provide their voice talents, with most of them not even being recognizable as they really go out of the box with their characters. Had these actors been given a little more room to play with, I feel The Pirates! could have turned into a much more entertaining movie. 

To give you an idea of how "contained" it all is, Salma Hayek has about two lines in the entire film. 

While I would not go as far as telling you to avoid the film, The Pirates! is nothing to get too excited about. It's funny, yes, but only in it's few moments of genius (because they really are genius). Unfortunately, those few moments are almost immediately throw overboard with a very messy story that jumps around way too quickly as though it needed to be molded into something you could present to a low-tolerance, weak patience-filled child. Aardman has always been known as throwing in plenty of adult jokes and references, and while The Pirates! has a couple, it never embraces that style we're used to seeing. 

The Good:
superb visuals that shows how far you can really go with stop-motion animation
The Bad:
a messy story that tries too hard to appease the little ones...
The Ugly:
...while nearly forgetting about the adult fans that helped build the studio

Overall: 6.4/10


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


At August 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM , Anonymous Max said...

One of my favorite moments of the film is when they used the Flight of the Conchords song. It was so unexpected and it worked perfectly.

At August 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM , Anonymous alleyandthemovies said...

Good review, but I really enjoyed this one. It had two many plots, but a solid 8 nonetheless. Here's my review:

At August 29, 2012 at 6:50 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah! I completely forgot to mention that in the review.. f**king love that song!

At August 29, 2012 at 6:56 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I'll check out your review. I really wanted to give it a higher score but just couldn't...

At August 29, 2012 at 9:01 PM , Anonymous entertain yourself said...

Fascinating for me on many levels - from the attention to detail, to the historical references and even to how we found out where those Jane Austen novels about sharks versus Dracula got their start! :)
Great review!

At August 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks! I do agree it had it's moments that I really liked.. but overall just didn't work. I also hate the fact that the leper boat was changed to a plague boat.. not cool.

At August 31, 2012 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

I enjoyed this film immensely. I understand your reservations about the crowded story elements, but I was laughing too much at the songs and the visual jokes to let it distract me.

Again, if I may, my comments:

At August 31, 2012 at 8:54 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah, the inclusion of the Flight of the Conchords song was perfect and there were a handful of hilarious moments.. but I just couldn't give the movie that high of a score.

At August 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM , Blogger Benend said...

I loved it on an aesthetic level but plot-wise it really bored me. Also, for a pirate movie there is very little feeling of adventure, which is understandable given how hard it is to create such a movie.

At August 31, 2012 at 4:33 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah exactly! It looked great but the story lacked so much. And that's a good point about the adventure, it was very lacking as well.

At September 2, 2012 at 10:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'd have liked it a lot more if, going into the movie, you had both read the book and you were British. One of the main jokes of the book is the incongruity of it all, and if you know what to expect when you see the movie and you're a fan of that sort of humor, you'd know that Aardman Studios pulled it off perfectly as an adaptation. (That kind of quick-paced, light-hearted humor is a very British type of thing. If you're not used to it, it can be unpleasant.)

The movie, and the book especially, is also not supposed to be geared towards children at all. The U.S. I think marketed it a bit wrongly. Sure, the movie took out most of the adult references used in the book, but if I were to guess that would be so a claymation movie didn't have to land a PG-13 rating and look bad.

At September 2, 2012 at 10:47 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I can understand that as well as the honest to the source material (in a sense) but I don't think a movie has that luxury of people knowing what the books are about. It should be a stand alone movie. I did understand all the humor as well, and I am a huge fan of British humor, but I still thought it was very lacking.

Thanks for commenting!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home